South Africa launches continent’s most advanced nanosatellite

South Africa has successfully launched the continent’s most advanced nanosatellite to date — the ZACube-2 into space.

“This satellite will help us monitor our ocean traffic as part of our oceans economy and also monitor veld fires and provide near real-time fire information ensuring a quick response time by disaster management teams,” South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said in a statement on Thursday.

“Science is indeed helping us resolve the challenges of our society. I want to congratulate our space team for great work and this achievement,” the minister added.

The ZACube-2 will provide cutting edge remote sensing and communication services to South Africa and the region.

The satellite was developed by some of South Africa’s youngest and brightest minds under a programme representing the country’s diversity, in particular black students and young women, a feat the minister said she is proud of.

According to the South African Department of Science and Technology, the satellite is a technology demonstrator for Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) that will provide critical information for the county’s oceans economy.

It will monitor the movement of ships along the South African coastline with its automatic identification system (AIS) payload.

The Minister congratulated the team behind this historic moment, saying the launch of ZACube-2 represents a significant milestone in the nation’s ambition to becoming a key player in the innovative utilisation of space science and technology in responding to government priority areas.

Weighing just four kilograms, the ZACube-2 is South Africa’s second nanosatellite to be launched into space and three times the size of its predecessor, TshepisoSat.

“It is regarded as the continent’s most advanced cube satellite and is in fact a precursor to the MDASat — a constellation of nine nanosatellites that will be developed to provide cutting-edge very high frequency data exchange communication systems to the maritime industry,” the department said.

The department’s entity, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), in cooperation with the University of Montpellier, the French Embassy and the Paris Chamber of Commerce, manages the project.


Originally published at The Nerve Africa.